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DESPITE TOUGH TIMES, MAIL ORDER COMPANIES' SALES UP IN 1991; EXPECT SALES TO TOP $100 BILLION IN 1992

 DESPITE TOUGH TIMES, MAIL ORDER COMPANIES' SALES UP IN 1991;
 EXPECT SALES TO TOP $100 BILLION IN 1992
 CHICAGO, April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's mail order merchandisers experienced sales gains in the double digits in 1991, despite the recession, according to Maxwell Sroge Co., Chicago-based catalog consultants. And the company expects the industry to do even better this year, breaking the $100 billion mark in sales.
 Overall, in 1991, publicly held catalog merchandisers outperformed insurance/financial and publishing mail order companies in terms of sales gains, according to the Maxwell Sroge exclusive analysis. Merchandisers experienced an 11.7 percent increase in sales over 1990, compared with increases of 10.6 percent for the insurance/financial group and 0.2 percent for the publishing group. Profits for catalog merchandisers climbed 14.6 percent over 1990.
 Year-end sales and earnings data for 25 publicly held mail order companies is compiled in Non-Store Marketing Report, a 15-year-old newsletter published by Maxwell Sroge Co.
 While it was widely reported in the mass media that catalog giant Spiegel saw earnings plummet 73 percent, that was the exception to the rule. In fact, just one-fifth of the companies in the Non-Store Marketing Report universe saw sales decline in 1991. A number of companies made marked gains.
 Lands' End, for example saw profits rise 98 percent on a 13 percent sales gain. Dell Computer saw sales rise 63 percent to $890 million in 1991. The CML Group saw earnings nearly triple to $22 million. And QVC/CVN reported profits up 215 percent.
 Again and again, those catalog merchandisers that reported a bad year blamed the economy, the Gulf War and the postal increase. And those that fared better claimed they did so by cutting expenses, while increasing promotions, cutting prices and emphasizing customer service. By and large, according to Maxwell Sroge, value was the watchword for 1991. To a certain extent, some companies were helped or hindered by the product line they specialized in.
 The Non-Store Marketing Report results are in sharp contrast to the dim picture portrayed in December last year by some business newspapers, which emphasized the negative news coming out of a few catalogers. Despite such doom-and-gloom reports, Sroge stood by his predictions that sales would be up 10 to 12 percent for the year, and is now pleased to have been vindicated. Looking ahead to 1992, Sroge expects an industrywide increase of 15 percent, substantially ahead of retail. He predicts that consumer mail order sales will break the $100 billion mark for the first time, topping out at $105 billion.
 For more information, see the April 20 Non-Store Marketing Report or call the contact.
 -0- 4/23/92
 /CONTACT: Maxwell Sroge Co., 312-818-1890/ CO: Maxwell Sroge Co. ST: Illinois IN: REA SU: ECO


PS-LR -- NY002 -- 1661 04/23/92 09:00 EDT
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Date:Apr 23, 1992
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